Greek Coast Guard forces in the eastern Aegean sea have been put on high-level alert in order to deal with an increase in migration flow in the area. This is a result of the increased armed conflict in Syria and Iraq, sources at the coast guard headquarters say.
According to the latest figures, illegal migration across the country’s eastern borders has increased sharply by 400% in August 2014, compared to the same month last year.
In the last 24 hours alone, authorities have recorded 624 illegal immigrants getting picked up by the Greek Coast Guard while attempting to cross over to various eastern Aegean islands, undeterred by the harsh weather conditions and wind speeds as high as 7 Beaufort.
Warnings that the phenomenon was becoming particularly acute were voiced by Shipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis last week. The Minister stressed the need for a united stance by the European Union, saying that it must contribute more actively, providing resources and funds for Coast Guard operations to tackle the migration flow.
He noted that Europe was being “wilfully blind” to the problem and allowing the southern European countries, such as Italy, Malta and Greece, to deal with the problem at a huge and disproportionate cost.